ROUND 17 looms as the most important week of football for the 2015 season to date, with many pivotal clashes taking place which will help shape the finals.
The Eagles and the Swans are facing off in a match that should dictate who finishes top two, GWS and Geelong are playing for their finals lives, while the loser of the Dogs and Pies game can just about kiss season 2015 goodbye.
Blues vs. Hawks
Friday, July 24th, 7:50pm, Etihad Stadium
Carlton – $1.92 (+66.5)
Hawthorn – $1.92 (-66.5)
Round 17 kicks off at Etihad Stadium with the Blues hosting the Hawks in what will be the easiest game of the round to pick.
The Hawks have been in red-hot form, dispatching two of their closest rivals for the flag on the march towards the finals and look in ominous form.
Carlton were gallant in the west against Fremantle, but were ultimately overpowered by a much stronger team.
On paper this looks to be an absolute walkover, and even with an 11 goal head start on the line betting, the Hawks should comfortably cover that on their way to another four premiership points.
Tip: Hawthorn to win – line bet -66.5 $1.92 via Sportsbet
Exotic: Most disposals group 1 Jordan Lewis – $4.50 via Sportsbet
David Parkin Medal: Jordan Lewis – $6 via Sportsbet
Giants vs. Cats
Saturday, July 25th, 1:45pm, Startrack Oval (Canberra)
GWS – $1.91 (-2.5)
Geelong – $1.91 (+2.5)
Saturday afternoon in the nation’s capital sees the Giants hosting the Cats in a do-or-die clash for both teams.
The Giants fought out a gutsy win against the Suns last week on the Gold Coast, with on-baller Devon Smith stepping up to fill the void left by injured superstar Dylan Sheil, booting four goals.
The Cats held off a fast finishing Western Bulldogs outfit to keep their September hopes alive, and will travel to Canberra full of confidence that their run can continue.
Geelong welcome back captain Joel Selwood who missed last week’s clash through suspension.
Joel Patfull finds his way back into the Giants side after missing over a month of football.
This one is a true toss of the coin, but the return of Selwood, as well as the overall experience factor plays in the Cats’ favour, who should prove too strong for the Giants.
Tip: GWS to win $2.00 via Crownbet
Exotic: Joel Selwood to get 30 or more disposals – $4.40 via Sportsbet
Crows vs. Suns
Saturday, July 25th, 2:10pm, Adelaide Oval
Adelaide – $1.91 (-28.5)
Gold Coast – $1.91 (+28.5)
The first Saturday game of the round sees the Crows hosting the Suns over in the South of Australia.
The Crows are flying high after a spirited victory over cross-town rivals Port Adelaide last week, and look to be playing inspired football as the reality of a potential finals campaign kicks in.
The Gold Coast Suns were better last week but seemed to lack the polish to get over the Giants at home, despite a huge effort from captain Gary Ablett.
The Crows have been able to welcome back injury-hit star Rory Sloane, who has missed significant chunks of the season with a cheekbone injury.
The Suns have lifted Harley Bennell’s club imposed exile, while dominant forward Charlie Dixon has shaken off his ankle injury.
Despite the handy ins for the Suns, the Crows should be too strong at home, plus they have too much to play for.
Tip: Adelaide to win $1.67 via William Hill
Exotic: Taylor Walker to score the most goals $3.75 via Sportsbet
Tigers vs. Dockers
Saturday, July 25th, 4:35pm, Melbourne Cricket Ground
Richmond – $1.92 (-3.5)
Fremantle – $1.92 (+3.5)
The Melbourne Cricket Ground plays host to the game of the round, with Richmond facing off against the top-of-the-table Dockers.
The Tigers held off a fast finishing St Kilda last week to keep their momentum rolling on towards a potential top four finish in 2015.
The Dockers did what they had to against the Blues to keep one game clear atop the AFL ladder.
A big question lingers over the fitness of Fremantle superstar on-baller Nat Fyfe, who has struggled with a corked thigh which he sustained in the devastating loss to Hawthorn in Tasmania.
Fyfe is without a doubt the most important player in the game today, and if he is unavailable it is hard to see the Dockers mounting a challenge away from home against the Tigers.
Even if Fyfe is able to take to the field against Richmond, it will be difficult to holt the Tigers, who are full of confidence and look ready to take another big scalp.
Tip: Richmond to win line bet – -3.5 $1.92 via William Hill
Exotic: Most possesions/most goals – Trent Cotchin/Jack Riewoldt $15 via Sportsbet
Bombers vs. Power
Saturday, July 25th, 7:20pm, Etihad Stadium
Essendon – $1.91 (+17.5)
Port Adelaide – $1.91 (-17.5)
The Bombers and the Power are set to battle at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night in a match that looked so much better on paper prior to the start of the season.
This will be Paddy Ryder’s first game in Port Adelaide colours, and he should experience a hostile reception from the Bomber faithful.
The Bombers were terrific for a half last week, but fell away sharply against North Melbourne. However, they did show signs that all the pieces are still there.
Port Adelaide looked set to steamroll their cross-town rivals in the final quarter of the Showdown last week, but feel just short of pulling off the miracle.
The Power welcome back speedster Matt White after he recovered from a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the game for just under a month.
The Bombers have experienced a great run against the Power, winning their last five matches, and this trend should continue with the visitors now acutely aware their finals chances are now gone.
Tip: Essendon to win $3.15 via Crownbet
Exotic: Most disposals – Dyson Heppell $7.00 via Sportsbet
Lions vs. Kangaroos
Saturday, July 25th, 7.20pm, GABBA
Brisbane – $1.92 (+21.5)
North Melbourne – $1.92 (-21.5)
Saturday night in Brisbane sees the luckless Lions hosting the resurgent Kangaroos in what promises to be an entertaining contest.
North Melbourne premiership superstar Brent Harvey plays his 400th AFL game for the club, becoming only the fourth living player in the history of the game to achieve the milestone.
The Kangaroos did what they had to in last week’s win over the Bombers, overturning a half time deficit to record a 25 point win.
The Lions were woeful against Melbourne, in what many dubbed to be the worst game of the season.
It is hard to see how the Lions can mount a challenge in this one, despite North’s spasmodic form on the road.
The Kangaroos have too much to play for, with their milestone man’s big game, as well as a finals berth beckoning.
Tip: North Melbourne to win by 40+ $3.10 via Sportsbet
Exotic: Jarrad Waite to score the most goals – $6 via Sportsbet
Bulldogs vs. Magpies
Sunday, July 26th, 1:10pm, Etihad Stadium
Western Bulldogs – $1.91 (+4.5)
Collingwood – $1.91 (-4.5)
The first Sunday game of the weekend kicks off at Etihad Stadium with the Bulldogs hosting the Magpies.
Both sides are looking to secure a place in the finals with the Dogs and the Pies both firmly entrenched in the four team battle for the final two spots in the eight.
The Dogs were gallant down in Geelong but fell short after trailing for most of the match, but will take confidence that their young boys withstood a lot of pressure from seasoned pros.
The Pies were disappointing last week against the Eagles, never really looking like they were in the contest after losing Travis Cloke in the opening minutes.
The loss of Cloke is vitally important to the Pies, as he has been their sole focal point up front, with Jamie Elliot and Jesse White struggling to make an impact on the scoreboard.
The Dogs look ready to take another scalp here, and with the loss of Cloke the Pies forward line looks bereft of goal kicking firepower.
Tip: Western Bulldogs to win $2.10 via William Hill
Exotic: First goal scorer – Tory Dickson $10 via Sportsbet
Sutton/Rose Medal: Mitch Wallis – $26 via Sportsbet
Melbourne vs. Saints
Sunday, July 26th, 3:20pm, Melbourne Cricket Ground
Melbourne – $1.92 (-3.5)
St Kilda – $1.92 (+3.5)
A battle of the bottom looms at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday with the Demons hosting the Saints.
The Demons got back on the winners list last week, but did not do it with any great style, winning against the Lions at home.
The Saints surged home against the Tigers at Etihad last Sunday but just fell short.
The Saints have played exciting football at times this year, with their midfield of Armitage and Leigh Montagna amongst the best pairings in the AFL.
The Demons forward line has been dysfunctional at times, but Paul Roos would have to be happy with the progress of young forward Jesse Hogan, who booted four goals last week against the Lions.
A true toss of the coin match this one, but the edge has to go to St Kilda, with the more polished midfield and the exciting duo of Nick Reiwoldt and Josh Bruce up forward.
Tip: Port Adelaide to win $1.93 via William Hill
Exotic: First goal scorer – Josh Bruce $7 via Sportsbet
Eagles vs. Swans
Sunday, July 26th, 4:40pm, Domain Stadium
West Coast – $1.91 (-17.5)
Sydney – $1.92 (+17.5)
The final game of round 17 sees the Eagles hosting the Swans in a match that could determine who finishes inside the top four with a double chance.
The Swans were woeful last week against the Hawks, getting exposed in all areas of the ground and were made to look especially slow through the midfield.
The Eagles were brilliant against the Pies, and if not for some wayward goal kicking could have put their opponents away much earlier in the match.
The Swans will be without two important key posts in Kurt Tippett – who misses with a broken hand – and Ted Richards, who copped a one week suspension.
The Eagles lost intercept marking king Jeremy McGovern to a hamstring injury.
The home side are in red-hot form at the moment, and the Swans look in free fall.
It is hard to see how the Swans can mount a challenge in the west, with too many key players out and the Eagles in blistering form.
Tip: West Coast to win 40+ $3.40 via Sportsbet
Exotic: First goal scorer – Jack Darling $10 via Sportsbet
HMAS medallist: Luke Schuey – $15 via Sportsbet
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